One of the most iconic sales teams for most people is the quirky group at Dundermifflin (or Wernham Hogg for those in the U.K.) in the show The Office. Despite being an overall dysfunctional group and satirized, there are a few things that they do right. One of those is using a whiteboard. Michael even uses one in the opening credits.
While whiteboarding may seem like a thing of the past (we have video calls and online tools and almost everything else we could need), it’s just as prevalent now as before we gained so many digital sales tools.
What’s more — a whiteboard can be especially useful to a salesperson trying to close a deal. What could Jim and Dwight be doing to set themselves apart on a sales pitch? We’ll show you with a sales whiteboard.
What is whiteboarding?
Before we move into more specific uses, let’s define whiteboarding. It sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, you’re correct! It’s just turning a noun into a verb. Whiteboarding is when you include a whiteboard in your thought process.
One of the most common uses of whiteboarding is in business meetings or group brainstorming sessions. It’s extremely convenient to be able to write down any idea thrown out on the spot and have a visual reminder to go back and further explore those ideas. From there, you can cross out ieas that don’t work, move things around to organize thoughts, and keep a visual picture of everything you’re talking about so no one gets lost.
Need a more in-depth explanation of whiteboarding? We’ve got you! Our blog post will take you through the ins and outs of the process. And you can return here once you’re ready to apply that knowledge to sales.
What is a sales whiteboard?
Logically, yes, a sales whiteboard is a whiteboard you use to make sales. But it’s also so much more than that!
Properly executed sales whiteboarding can easily take your pitch to the next level, increasing sales and bringing in higher revenue (both to your company and yourself if you make commission) — a true win-win.
Your sales whiteboard should consist of a story and pitch, just like any other meeting. The difference here is that, as you talk and further your point, your whiteboard will reflect more and more information. That could include hierarchy structures, price points, competition, graphs, maps, product descriptions, interfaces; the more, the better. Just make sure you’re keeping the information organized and easy to take in at a glance.
The human brain loves images and infographics, so the more you can work these into the presentation, the more memorable and compelling it’ll be. We’ll go more into all this a little later.
Why should you use sales whiteboarding?
As we already mentioned, people cling to imagery. They say a picture is worth a thousand words — just imagine how many an infographic is worth. More importantly, the images that you’re creating for your client are interactive and move the story along as you tell it.
Gone are the days of deferring to a PowerPoint to make all of your points. No one likes sitting and watching static slides with pictures and bulleted sentences. Research has shown that when set in front of a PowerPoint, the audience’s attention and focus actually decreases. That’s the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to close that big deal or begin a lucrative new partnership.
You can even think of it a little bit like a magic show. Sure, you know exactly what you’re going to say and draw ahead of time, but your client is going in almost blind, ready to be impressed. Make them feel like this is the first performance you’ve ever given, like everything you do or say is completely second nature.
Tips for nailing your sales whiteboard presentation
Now that you’ve got the gist of the presentation you need to put together, we’re here to help you bring it home.
You need to know your prospective client like the back of your hand. Ideally, you’ll be custom-tailoring your presentation to each separate client. This includes stats on their company, their sales, their competition, their marketing efforts, their hierarchies — anything that makes sense to add, add it. The more intel you have on them, the better. They’ll also be more convinced when you’re able to answer hyper-specific questions about what your product will be able to do for them.
This should go without saying, but you should never be making these pitches off the cuff — especially when including a visual element that you have to provide in real-time. Have some sort of a script (that you or your team created) that you can memorize. When we say memorize, we don’t mean just reading it off word for word or reciting it like a middle school play. Just make sure you know all the main points, the flow, and then put it into your own words in a way that sounds natural.
Paired with this, you need to know exactly what you’ll be writing or drawing on your whiteboard. You need to be spot on with every statistic, every flow, and the placement of how all these separate ideas ladder up.
You’ll know you’re in a good place when every time that you give your pitch, it sounds like it could be completely spontaneous. You’re calm, collected, informed, and everything you do and say works together. You’re ready for your client!
3. Have the right tool
While the obvious tool to whiteboard with is a whiteboard, make sure you have anything else you’d need on hand. Maybe that means bringing your own markers to make sure you don’t end up with an inscrutable image because someone left the cap off again.
And, when it comes to conducting these types of pitches remotely, as is increasingly the case, have the right online whiteboarding tool at the ready. We strongly recommend our own online diagramming tool, Cacoo. With Cacoo, you can invite guests to participate or watch as you draw, write, drag, and drop in real-time. Just open the video chat feature in the app, and it’s almost the same as being in the same room. Just make sure you practice a few times with a team member first!
Whiteboarding is a powerful pool that remains alive, well, and ready to help any salesperson who can properly master the pitch. Paired with Cacoo’s online whiteboarding tool, you’ll soon be giving pitches that would rival Michael Scott himself.